The Abdication of Leadership: Has History Taught President Trump Nothing?

By White House photographer – Official White House Facebook page, Public Domain

In 1958 the Avro Arrow was destined to become one of the world’s finest interceptor jets, except the project never got off the ground, so to speak. February 20, 1959, the day the Canadian government cancelled production of this Cold War plane came to be known as Black Friday, the day thousands of employees, laborers, scientists, and engineers alike were scattered in the wind.

That was the day Canada lost its opportunity to become a world leader in avionics, instead Canada’s disenfranchised fled to other countries to continue their work. Some years later, those same brilliant minds would eventually help NASA put a man on the moon.

June 1, 2017, yesterday, President Donald Trump announced the United States’ intention to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, a worldwide effort to reduce global warming. In his televised speech Trump argued he chose to put the United States first. Waving the America First banner is no real surprise as he has built his presidency by dangling this populist carrot before the hungry, the disenfranchised, in short, the groups who felt they had nothing to lose as Washington’s swamp had failed to offer them anything of value in the past.

In withdrawing from the Paris accord, Donald Trump’s actions were not designed to feed the proverbial hungry, but rather demonstrated a blatant act of self-preservation in light of his rapidly emaciating presidency—Russia—US investigations, accusations of obstruction of justice, midnight tweets (Covfefe?) and then there are still those pesky tax returns.

In fact Donald Trump was placing his own self-interests before that of the planet, even before those of his constituents. Trump by now should appreciate that he is not the president of his constituents, but rather the leader of all the people of the United States. He is in fact a world leader who would benefit from thinking outside of his constituency box.

Yesterday Donald Trump simply did what he has done each time he is faced with a threat, running back to his base supporters, stirring the Trump pot with the very same specious promises and rhetoric that had placed him in the White House while others laughed. Although he did not hold his usual campaign style rally, he did continue to pander to the Trump supporters as though they were right there in the White House Rose Garden.

Trump Climate Accord Speech Rose Garden

He built up the announcement over days as if it wasn’t sufficient enough to gracefully bow out of the agreement while still abroad. Surely a simple tweet would have sufficed, but Trump, ever the self-promoter, looked upon it as an opportunity to raise his abysmal approval ratings even among Trump supporters. It was a chance for him to wear his tiara before his audience, the very people who will lose out as result of his policy. No?

“With Trump’s America First policy the United States has perhaps lost an opportunity to become part of the new industry of technology and innovation that will grow from the need and desire for clean energy.”

One only need look at the history of technology usurping skilled workers—the electric typewriter and the computer saw the end of the typing pools, no different from the end of the horse and buggy with the advent of the automobile. Or perhaps, it is more like the shortsightedness of the Canadian government who scrapped a program that would have seen Canada as a world leader in avionics with various lucrative spin-offs.

With Trump’s America First policy the United States has perhaps lost an opportunity to become part of the new industry of technology and innovation that will grow from the need and desire for clean energy.

Photo: NASA

Just as plastics were the innovation of the 70’s and as computers became the innovation of the 90’s, so does clean energy have the potential to grow and become part of our daily lives, creating jobs in its wake. Everyone will benefit except for perhaps the United States.  

Trump voters will never have a chance to be retrained as age-old jobs become obsolete, they will never reap the potential benefits of the trickle-down effect from a new stimulus to the economy.

Already France’s President Emmanuel Macron in a streamed announcement to the world has announced that France will welcome American climate scientists who are interested in clean energy and innovation, thereby dangling a brighter and juicer carrot before the best and the brightest in America. The United States has had its Black Friday. As history moves forward it threatens to leave Americans, especially Trump supporters in its wake.

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First Published June 2, 2017

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